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Canadian team scouts Nepal hinterlands to plan aid and find stranded Canucks

Last Updated Apr 30, 2015 at 5:50 pm PST

OTTAWA – Government ministers say members of a Canadian team are moving out from the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu on a reconnaissance mission in the earthquake-ravaged hinterlands.

And Canadian officials are working to locate Canadians in remote locations and bring them back to Kathmandu, where a second military transport is set to arrive on Friday morning local time.

That C-17 Globemaster aircraft will then be able to evacuate more people from the disaster zone once it is unloaded.

Canada is also pre-positioning relief equipment in Germany, ready to be flown on to Nepal.

Officials are still trying to pin down the number of Canadians who were in the country when the huge tremor hit on the weekend.

While there may have been about 500 Canadians in the country then, about 100 were flown out on a military plane on Wednesday and another hundred or so are believed to have left on commercial flights.

The scouting mission to outlying areas will help pinpoint where to focus relief efforts, said Defence Minister Jason Kenney.

“The Canadian assessment team has left Kathmandu to carry out a reconnaissance mission in remote areas in order to best position our military team to help the Nepalese,” Kenney told a news conference.

Lynne Yelich, the junior foreign minister for consular affairs, said other efforts are being directed at finding Canadians in the boondocks.

“We have a plan,” Yelich said.

“We’re tracking for remote areas. We’re currently planning outreach operations to track and map the locations of stranded Canadians and we’re trying to secure traditional means of transportation to access the individuals, to bring them in.”

Kenney said the second C-17 carries 51 military technicians, including air movement specialists and communications experts.

About 200 members of the Disaster Assistance Response Team are standing by in Trenton, Ont., ready to deploy once a role is defined for them.

In addition to the disaster response team, the Canadian government has pledged $5 million in humanitarian assistance and is also matching donations from citizens until May 25.

Canada’s diplomatic presence in Nepal is limited but staff from the High Commission in Delhi have been sent to Kathmandu and a consular service point has been established at the Phora Durbar American Club.

Planes carrying food, shelter and other supplies have been arriving steadily at Kathmandu’s small airport, but the aid distribution process remains fairly chaotic, with Nepalese officials having difficulty directing the flow of goods.

The U.N. World Food Program warned that it will take time for food and other supplies to reach more remote communities that have been cut off by landslides.